We are fools for Christ’s sake. – 1 Corinthians 4:10
1 Corinthians 4:9-16
9 Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world – to people and angels alike.
10 Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed.
11 Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home.
12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.
13 We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash – right up to the present moment.
16 So I urge you to imitate me.
Generally speaking, outside the Bible, a fool is considered a person who lacks judgment or prudence. They are often considered dullards with mental deficiencies. But in fact, they are anything but. They are often individuals with keen insight and caustic wit. They proved to be quite entertaining. Throughout history, royal courts employed court jesters, court fools, or clowns. In ancient Rome, they were actors. In ancient China, they often functioned as diplomats. “They needed to be intelligent and observant enough to see mistakes that were about to happen and make fun of the situation in a way that made their ruler stop, take a step back, and fix little problems before they turned into big ones” (Deborah Kelly).
Jesters came from all walks of life and were recruited into service in royal courts because of their intelligence and entertaining manner.
Years ago, a televised debate occurred between one of the Father’s children and an atheist. At one point, the child of the King stated, “I am a fool for Christ’s sake.” He queried, “Whose fool, are you?”
Paul clearly explains that judging by human standards, he and the other apostles were fools for Christ’s sake. They frequently put their lives at risk to preach the gospel and spread the Word (Acts 14:19, Acts 16:22-25, Acts 17:10, Acts 18:12).
There is a tremendous irony here. In the eyes of the Corinthians, Paul was playing the part of a fool. But in the eyes of the Father, the Corinthians were wise in their own eyes but were actually fools. They demonstrated their foolishness by relying on human wisdom and worldly standards. “The way to be spiritually wise is to become a fool in the eyes of the world (1 Corinthians 3:18)” (Wiersbe).
REFLECT & PRAY
The people that the Father chooses to become His children and do His will are a living contradiction to the values and standards of the world.
Father, I have a natural reticence to hold back. Encourage me to embrace Your foolishness. Deep inside I want to be a fool for Christ’s sake.
The Corinthians were suffering from inflated egos and a superiority complex. They were quick to pass judgment on lesser souls than themselves. Paul slices and dices them with his quick wit. He is sarcastic and his words drip with irony.
1 Corinthians 4:6-7
6 Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures, you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another.
7 For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?
Paul asks them the most pertinent and basic of all questions. “What do you possess, that you did not receive?” (Barclay)
No one could ever have known the Father unless He had revealed Himself. Men and women could never have won their own salvation; they do not save themselves. Rather, the Father saved them. When we think of what we have done and think of what the Father has done for us, pride is ruled out and only humble gratitude remains. The basic fault of the Corinthians was that they had forgotten that they owed their souls to God the Father (Barclay).
“He turns on the Corinthians with scathing irony. He compares their pride, their self-satisfaction, and their feeling of superiority with the life that an apostle lives. He chooses a vivid picture. When a Roman general won a great victory, he was allowed to parade his victorious army through the streets of the city with all the trophies that he had won; the procession was called a Triumph. But, in the end, there came a little group of captives who were doomed to death; they were being taken to the arena to ﬁght with the wild beasts and so to die.”
The Corinthians in their blatant, hubristic pride were like the conquering general displaying the trophies of his prowess. The apostles were like the little group of captives doomed to die. To the Corinthians, the Christian life meant ﬂaunting their privileges and inflating up their achievements. To Paul, it meant humble service and a readiness to die for Christ (Barclay).
Except for the apostle Paul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, the rest of the apostles were a motley crew of laborers and one tax collector. Paul asked the Corinthians to “consider your calling.” That is, he wanted them to remember and reflect upon who and what they were when they came to faith. Hardly any of them would have been considered “the cream of society” (Garland). Yet the Father called each of them to serve in His heavenly court. Thus, anyone can do it. But many of us, for one reason or another, shrink back. Paul asks each of us to reflect upon who and what we are.
1 Corinthians 1:26-28
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.